When Diane Gentry went to college, she gravitated toward the healthcare field and ended up earning a BSN from Tennessee Technological University in 1990. She started out at a small hospital followed by a home health agency for six years before joining Cookeville Regional Medical Center in her home town of Cookeville in 1998. She has been with the 247-bed regional referral center (part of the Cookeville Regional Health System) ever since.
A range of experiences
In her 20 years at Cookeville Regional, Diane has worked in medical-surgical, critical care, the stepdown unit and finally, neurology, which she did for 14 years. Today, she works in pulmonology.
Along the way, Diane got certified in progressive care nursing, cardiac medicine and neuroscience nursing. “I love education and value learning.” That passion nudged Diane toward school again, and in 2016, she began doing researching online MSN programs to compare to the brick-and-mortar program available at her nearby BSN alma mater.
A nurturing, supportive environment
In her online search, American Sentinel University stood out to Diane. “I liked the flexibility most of all and the fact that I could do one eight-week class at a time, at my own pace,” she says. “When you’ve been out of college for a long time, it’s a little intimidating to go back. American Sentinel had this nurturing, supportive feel to it. Everyone there was nice from the very beginning, and once I started, the instructors and student success advisors were just wonderful.” Diane decided to try out a class—and she hasn’t looked back.
Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership
In October 2018, Diane will graduate with the MSN, Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership specialization. “Being in the MSN program has helped me sound more intelligent when trying to get my point across and with my assessment skills,” she says. “Healthcare is changing rapidly and we need to understand the ‘why’ behind what we do. I’m very glad that now I have the skills to do that.”
An applicable capstone
Diane has become such a believer in education that she focused her capstone on the importance of having MSN-prepared directors at her hospital. “We are a growing community hospital that has many specialties considering the small town we are in,” she says. “We see a wide range of complex problems, and our staff needs to be prepared to address them.” Her goal is to present this to the hospital’s leadership to convince them that to achieve the highest level of care, the hospital should encourage all directors to do what she did and earn an MSN.
Not quite done with education
As she finishes up her MSN, Diane admits that she is considering taking on an even bigger challenge: earning the Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership. “The MSN was a personal goal of mine to give myself more credibility and refresh my knowledge,” she says. “But the DNP is something I would absolutely love to do.” If there’s one lesson she has learned, Diane says it is this: “Education is time well spent. Getting the MSN was hard work, but I’m glad that I did it.”
Inspired by Diane’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, infection control, or case management. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of these nursing fields. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.